2 More
Property from a Distinguished Private Collection

Portrait of Madame Péan de Saint-Gilles, half-length, seated, in a black gown with a draped red Indian shawl

Portrait of Madame Péan de Saint-Gilles, half-length, seated, in a black gown with a draped red Indian shawl
signed and dated 'P.P. Prud'hon / 1821' (lower right)
oil on canvas, unlined
28 7/8 x 23 ½ in. (73.3 x 59.7 cm.)
with the exhibition label of the Paris Salon of 1822 '1047' (upper left) and with a Belot stamp (on the reverse)
Louis Passy (1830-1913), Eure, grandson of the sitter, and by descent to
Comtesse de Bueil, by 1922, and by descent to
Comte René de Bueil, by 1958, and by descent to
Comte Michel de Bueil.
with Richard L. Feigen & Co., New York, by 1995 and where acquired by the following
Private collection, New Orleans, by 1997.
with Richard L. Feigen & Co., New York, where acquired in 2002 by the present owner.
A.M.C. Clément, 'Les dernières lettres de Prud'hon', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, IX, 1874, p. 429.
E. de Goncourt, Catalogue Raisonné de l'Oeuvre Peint, Dessiné et Gravé de P.P. Prud'hon, Paris, 1876, pp. 50-51.
A. Dayot, Famous Beauties in Art From the beginning of the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day, Boston, 1907, p. 215.
L. Regnier, Louis Passy, sa Vie et ses Oeuvres, Pontoise, 1917, p. 5.
J. Guiffrey, L'oeuvre de P.P. Prud'hon, Paris, 1924, no. 586, p. 220.
S. Laveissière, Prud'hon ou le rêve du bonheur, Paris, 1997, p. 276, 283-285, no. 203.
E.E. Guffey, Drawing an Elusive Line: The Art of Pierre-Paul Prud-hon, Newark and London, 2001, p. 208.
Paris, Salon of 1822, no. 1047.
Paris, École des Beaux-Arts, Exposition des Oeuvres de Prud'hon au profit de sa Fille, May 1874, no. 27.
Paris, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Exposition Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, May-June 1922, no. 64.
Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon 1758-1823, 15 October-1 December 1958, no. 111.
Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand-Palais; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Prud'hon ou le rêve du bonheur, September 1997-June 1998, no. 203.

Brought to you by

Jonquil O’Reilly
Jonquil O’Reilly Vice President, Specialist, Head of Sale

Lot Essay

Madame Péan de Saint-Gilles, born Henriette Vanglenne, was the wife of Louis-Denis Péan de Saint-Gilles (1764-1829), dean of Paris stockbrokers, mayor of the 5th arrondissement of Paris and later representative of the Seine to the Chambre des Cent-Jours. Pierre Paul Prud’hon’s portrait of Madame Péan de Saint-Gilles was exhibited in the Salon of 1822 (the exhibition label, with the Salon number ‘1047’, is still affixed to the front of the canvas) and is one of the last paintings completed before the artist’s death in 1823, at age sixty-five. There are two preparatory drawings for the portrait: one, in chalk on blue paper, is in the Musée Bonnat, Bayonne (fig. 1) and another was formerly in the Bellanger collection (location unknown). The present canvas was painted as a pendant to a portrait of the sitter’s daughter, Madame Nicolas Frochot, formerly in the collection of the late Richard Feigen. Madame Frochot’s husband was the son of Prud’hon’s great friend and supporter from his days in exile, Nicolas-Thérèse-Benoît Frochot. After the untimely death of the younger Frochot in 1828, at age thirty-nine, his widow remarried, becoming Madame Antoine-François Passy.

The portraits of mother and daughter were commissioned in 1822 and purchased for 3,000 francs each, a significant price that attests to Prud’hon’s celebrity. In a letter, Madame Frochot recounted her sittings for the portrait with the grieving artist, in despair over the recent suicide of his companion, the painter Constance Mayer. Edmond de Goncourt wrote that the present portrait was ‘of the master’s highest quality, with a rendering of the skin that has the softness of the Flemish masters.’ Indeed, the painting – which is on an unlined canvas – is in unusually fine and well-preserved condition, especially for an artist whose works have often suffered from his unusual and experimental painting techniques. As a result, the subtle glazing of the sitter’s flesh tones that Goncourt praised is still evident.

A committed Republican, member of David’s ‘Club des Arts’, and Jacobin sympathizer during the Revolution, Pierre Paul Prud’hon cautiously absented himself from Paris after the fall of Robespierre in the summer of 1794, retreating with his family to the Franche-Comté, where he remained for two years. There, at the outset of the Revolution, he befriended Nicolas-Thérèse-Benoît Frochot, a deputy to the Estates-General and friend of Mirabeau. Imprisoned in Dijon under the Terror, Frochot later became a member of the legislature after 9 Thermidor and subsequently Prefect of the Seine. From these positions of power, he would give Prud’hon the earliest important commissions the artist would receive under Napoleon’s First Empire.

More from Old Masters

View All
View All